Unique Lab Helps Fight Opioid Abuse

Posted at 10:47 PM, Sep 14, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-14 23:57:38-04

As our country's opioid epidemic is spiraling out of control, scientists at a Brentwood drug lab have made it their mission to slow it down.

Medical laboratory scientists work diligently to try and combat the opioid epidemic at the Addiction Labs of America located on Wilson Pike Circle.

Researchers test for a broad range of synthetic opioids - they say it's the only lab in the country doing this kind of work.

Their research focuses on drug addiction treatments, abuse and what variations of synthetic opioids like fentanyl exist.

Lab Director of Toxicology Howard Taylor has studied drugs and their effects on the body for 30 years.

He said people today try to modify synthetic opioids to avoid them from being illegal.

"Drug abuse affects the whole body. It affects the liver, it affects the kidneys, it effects the brain, it affects hormones. Our laboratory looks at all of those things in order to treat a patient holistically," Taylor said. 

He said the researcher hits close to home.

"My cousin died of an overdose from methadone. It's a very important thing. My passion is to help people," he said.

Scientists said fentanyl killed more people than heroin in 2016.

This year, they expect it to kill more people than heroin, cocaine and meth combined. 

"We expect to see over a 500 percent increase in (fentanyl) deaths this year over the last three years," he said.

They now test 50 different fentanyl analogs using urine samples which will eventually help doctors and law enforcement treat people suffering from drug addictions.

"Having a place like this, we find ourselves in the forefront when battling opioids that makes it an important place to be," Executive Vice President Sales & Marketing Sean Farrell said.

The lab is constantly monitoring the DEA seizure list so that when something becomes a problem, they will already have a test for it.